Foods to Nourish the Yin
Particular foods that help to nourish the kidney yin include:
almonds, barley, black bean, blackberry, black sesame seeds, blueberry, chlorella, clam, clarified butter (ghee), crab, eggs, molasses, melons, mung bean, potato, royal jelly, sardines, seaweed, spirulina. Also, vegetables in general are gentle yin tonics, especially when steamed or sauteed lightly in olive oil.
Eugene, OR is a great place for berries. The farmers markets are filled to the brim in spring and summer and the blackberries grow wild in the parks so you can actually nourish your yin whilst out on a stroll. You have to watch the thorns though, cause they’ll put a little yang in your yin hand.
The most basic Chinese herbal formula for tonifying the yin is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, “Six Flavored Rehmannia Pill”.
Foods to Nourish the Blood
The foods that nourish the blood are generally high in B vitamins, iron, folic acid and copper. Many types of seaweed such as kelp and hijiki and green foods such as spirulina are abundant in iron and folic acid. Lightly steamed or sauteed greens also provide ample folic acid while high quality grains and legumes contain iron. Adding other vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin C is a good idea for increasing absorption of iron in the digestive system. Bell peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits and berries are good choices for boosting C. Some foods that specifically bring the B vitamins are:
B 12 - Tempeh is a soy food that has a very high B12 content and is a wonderful choice for vegetarians, while clams, trout, eggs and swiss and mozzarella cheeses are good sources of B12 for non vegetarians. For vegetarians, also supplementing with a high quality whey protein powder or brewers yeast should do the trick. For those who are very deficient in B12, bee pollen is another good supplement.
B6 – Use rice and wheat bran to boost your B6 intake. Spices like chili powder and paprika also pack a B6 punch. Sunflower and sesame seeds, hazelnuts and pistachios are another good source of B6 for vegetarians as is molasses. For those who eat fish, tuna, salmon and cod contain high levels. Other foods that rank high on the B6 profile include: avocados, bananas, garbanzo beans, baked potatoes, peanut butter and walnuts.
B1 – Macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and sunflower seeds are all good vegetarian sources of B1. Sesame butter or tahini is another good vegetarian source of B1 that also includes high levels of iron and zinc.
Foods to Reduce Inflammation
One of the most effective things that patients can do to help decrease their own inflammation is to change to an anti-inflammatory diet. This can greatly speed our progress as we utilize acupuncture for pain management or orthopedic issues. Here in Eugene, OR we are lucky to have an ample supply of fresh fruits and vegetables year round, so there is no excuse for not eating well around here.
Proteins: The best proteins for reducing inflammation tend to be fish, nuts, seeds and beans including soy products. Bass, cod, halibut, herring, trout, salmon, sardines, snapper and tuna are good choices for fish. Almonds, flaxseed, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and walnuts are good choices for nuts and seeds. Black beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, navy beans and pinto beans are high in protein and fiber. Tempeh and tofu are good soy choices. Try some other soy based options if those are too boring. I like the soy “pulled chicken” and “beef strips” from Trader Joes.
Fruits: Fruits are a great dietary ally for fighting inflammation. Apples, avocados, black berries, blueberries, guava, kiwi, lemon, lime, mulberries, oranges, papaya, pineapple, raspberries and strawberries are all good choices. Make sure you buy organic whenever possible.
Vegetables: Vegetables ideally would make up the majority of a good anti inflammatory diet. Bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts (I know…I know…just hold your nose), cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collards, green beans, green onions, kale, leeks, spinach and sweet potatoes are all great choices for the anti inflammatory menu.
Herbs, spices, oils
Virgin olive oil is the best cooking oil. Sauteing vegetables lightly in olive oil is a nice way to prepare them. Herbs and spices that are high in anti inflammatory properties include: anise, basil, cayenne, cloves, ginger, licorice, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Remember me to the one who lives there…she once was a true love of mine (whoops sorry, love me some Simon and Garfunkel). Don’t forget turmeric: a great choice for anti inflammatory diets which is a natural cox-2 (inflammatory enzyme) inhibitor and a great source of anti oxidants. Chamomile, ginger and green teas are wonderful choices for beverages.
Try creating a diet based mostly on vegetables, legumes, grains and fruits, supplemented with high quality proteins and watch your inflammation and pain decrease day by day.
Foods to Cool and Cleanse the Liver
The first rule for cleansing the liver is simplify. Simplify your diet and begin by eliminating some of the heavier foods high in saturated fat. Excess meats, cheese, eggs and poor quality oils should be the first to be cut. Use nuts only sparingly and keep alcohol use moderate. Like the anti inflammation diet outlined above, the liver cleansing diet should be composed primarily of fresh vegetables, good quality, complex carbohydrates and lean, clean proteins. Although bitter is the flavor associated with the heart and small intestine according to Chinese Medicine theory, bitter flavored foods also have the tendency to stimulate the free flow of liver energy. The liver and gallbladder correspond to the wood element in TCM, which generates the fire element: the heart and small intestine. Asparagus, hops, kale, rye, romaine lettuce, rhubarb are examples of foods with bitter flavor that help to circulate the liver energy.